Marshall Adult Education




TECH TIP:  Rebuild Your Computer

OK – so your computer is running really slow.  It takes 5 minutes to startup and 5 minutes to shutdown.  It takes 4 minutes to start Microsoft Word.  And you can take an afternoon nap when you start to log onto the internet!  You’ve done all the other supposedly necessary things like defrag your hard drive, uninstalled all unused applications, deleted all unnecessary files…and it still runs unbearably slow.  It may be time to rebuild your computer.


If you are a heavy computer user, (and you probably are or you wouldn’t be reading this), your computer needs a major rebuild every 2 or 3 years.  Mine needed one after just a year and a half.  When I say “rebuild,” I really mean reformatting your hard drive and starting from scratch – reinstalling your operating system and reinstalling all your applications.  Ah – that is a daunting task!


You may decide to do this yourself, or you may decide to take it to a technician and have them do it.  Whatever you decide, here are some tips on how to get this task done.


You are going to have to wipe out everything on your computer so you need to back-up all important data and information you don’t want to lose.  I would strongly suggest that you delete the partitions on your hard drive and then fdisk your hard drive.  You then will add a new partition to hold your operating system, applications and data.  (Note: by fdisking and repartitioning my hard drive, I picked up several megabytes of hard disk space that is usually reserved for proprietary information not need on your computer).


Here are the other major considerations:


  1. You need your original Windows Operating System disk – whether you do it yourself or take it to the shop.  If you do not have it, look on your computer case for a label called the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) which has the product key number for your operating system.  Your technician will be able to install a new operating system with that product key number.
  2. Keep all disks (CDs) or original software, like your Microsoft Office installation CD.  Your software cannot be moved from one computer to another – you need original installation CDs to reinstall all software.
  3. If you use a lot of software that you downloaded from the internet, keep the original installation files and back them up.  It will be a lot easier for you if you have those installation files than going out on the net and looking for them again.
  4. Back up all data on a CD or other storage device.  Burn your data to a CD or invest in a USB thumb drive – a big one if you have a lot of data.
  5. If you don’t want to lose your email, back up your email mailboxes.  You can find all your email boxes buried deep within your Local Settings/Application Data/Identities/etc … folder.  Search for your mailboxes and back them up.
  6. Back up your address book – you don’t want to type in 300 email addresses into you address book.  This is a simple task – just Export (Address book) from the File menu.
  7. Back up your Favorites from Internet Explorer.  That also is easy to do – Use the Export Wizard in the File menu in Internet Explorer.
  8. You will need to reinstall your Norton Antivirus (or whatever one you use).  If you installed your Norton online from the Symantec website (and paid for it by credit card), hopefully, you have the original Order Conformation email.  I had mine – I logged onto the Symantec website and using my order number, I did a new download of Norton 2005 and reinstalled my Norton Antivirus.  (I purchased my Norton in January and when I reinstalled it last weekend, they gave me a “complimentary” 365 day subscription – that was very nice!).
  9. You need to know the information needed to get you back on-line with dialup or with email.  You need to know your email address, your user ID, your password, and your incoming and outgoing server.  You might want to look in your account settings in Outlook or Outlook Express and write down these settings (or you may have this information from your ISP in hard copy somewhere).

If you would like to try these things on your own, there are tons of websites that can take you through step by step.  Do a little research, and take it on!


Well, does this sound overwhelming?  If you have kept good records, if you have not lost your important documents and CDs, and if you have several hours of patience, it is remarkably easy.  I had no trouble rebuilding my computer – it now starts up in 15 seconds, goes into standby in 4 seconds, opens up Word in 7 seconds and – alas – shutdown in 12.5 seconds!  How great is that?!



Lyon County Government Center  •  607 W. Main St.  •  Marshall, MN 56258  •  (507) 537-7046

E-Mail:    Marshall Adult Education